Sunday, September 23, 2012

Forming Up Your Genealogy--Part 18--Certificates

State conference time in Florida is busy if you are on the FSGS board. As the Florida Lines newsletter editor, I'm on the board. Because of my layout and design experience, I'm frequently drafted for tasks outside of my normal newsletter duties. Last year it was pulling together the conference syllabus. This year it has been designing a new pioneer certificate. Just as a f.y.i., I thought you might like to know how I approached this task, the functions I selected, and the design elements I considered.

Here are a few of the current contenders for the final certificate.

  • Certificates are on landscaped paper (8-1/2x11) with 0.5 margins.  
  • Variables in the forms have been set up as fillable fields: Descendant, Pioneer, (certificate) Number. 
  • Electronic signatures will be added so that the President and Chair don't have to sign individual documents. 

Orange Blossoms

This certificate layout uses a table. 

Column 1 = green stripe...filled the cells with a green from the orange blossoms photo (used Paint to sample color and get color formula)
Column 2 = orange blossoms
Column 3 = green stripe
Column 4 = FSGS logo and text
Column 5 = empty column to create a vertical space and a line for the right text alignment
Column 6 = green stripe

Row 1 = green stripe
Row 2 = orange blossoms and text
Row 3 = green stripe 

Table borders are set to None
I used Paint to create the orange blossoms. It's one photograph repeated four times in a column. 

Pioneer Border

This certificate layout is mostly flowing text. The border and the outline of the state are a watermark created in Paint and saved as a .png to maintain the colors. To match the colors, I sampled from the FSGS logo. The text for the certificate simply flows over the watermark. The signature area at the bottom of the certificate is a table (three columns and one row), which makes placements of the elements easier. Table borders are set to None

Pioneer Stripe

This certificate layout is a table. Table borders are set to None.

Column 1 = blue stripe with Florida (used Paint to sample color and get color formulas)
Column 2 = empty column for white stripe
Column 3 = blue stripe with Pioneer
Column 4 = empty column for white stripe
Column 5 = blue stripe with Certificate
Column 6 = empty column for white stripe and left margin for left text to alignment 

Text flow uses merged cells. Row one has all of the cells from columns 7 to 9 merged.
Column 7 = certificate number and presentation date
Column 8 = empty column for spacing
Column 9 = signatures 

Row 1 = majority of certificate text
Row 2 = Certificate number and President's signature
Row 3 = Presentation date and Chair's signature

Design Element
Take a close look at each certificate. The design element that makes them work that you might not immediately see is that for the most part I picked one margin and I stuck with it. The first certificate has text that is flush right. In the second one the text is centered. The third certificate is (mostly) flush left. In Orange Blossom and Pioneer Stripe I used an empty column to create an accent line to serve as a margin.

If you are interested in layout and design, I can't speak highly enough of a book: The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams. Williams offers practical suggestions that almost anyone can follow to create more attractive layouts. Over the years, I've referred back to this book again and again to refresh my memory on what this lady has to say about designing.

As always, if you have questions, send me an email or post a comment.

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